Plague – United States
One person diagnosed with the Bubonic Plague in Torrance County, New Mexico.
The person most likely contracted the illness from flea bites brought home by a pet.
The person is being treated at the local hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.
An environmental investigation is ongoing to look for risk to family and surrounding community members. To prevent plague, the Department of Health recommends avoiding sick or dead rodents, preventing pets from roaming and hunting, and talking to your veterinarian.
Photo: Yersinia pestis, Direct Fluorescent Antibody Stain
Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Symptoms include fever, weakness and headache. Usually this begins one to seven days after exposure. In the bubonic form there is also swelling of lymph nodes, while in the septicemic form tissues may turn black and die, and in the pneumonic form shortness of breath, cough and chest pain may occur.
Bubonic and septicemic plague are generally spread by flea bites or handling an infected animal. The pneumonic form is generally spread between people through the air via infectious droplets.
Plague has historically occurred in large outbreaks, with the best known being the Black Death in the 14th century which resulted in greater than 50 million dead.
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